Marketing is continuously evolving and improving over time. People are coming up with new ideas to make marketing more relevant. In the recent ABE Summit Keynote presented by Chat Funnels, Dave Elkington discussed different aspects of account-based marketing with industry leaders Jon Miller (CMO of Demandbase) and Latané Conant (CMO of 6sense). Both guests offered great insights into implementing account-based engagement and the future of the industry.
Account-Based Marketing vs Account-Based Engagement
Account-based marketing is a strategy that focuses on personalizing marketing efforts toward high-priority accounts. It’s important that the marketing, sales, and service teams all collaborate during the process to be successful. However, ABM has been difficult to implement in many cases. In fact, the term account-based marketing is misleading as it only highlights the marketing aspect of the process. Account-based engagement more effectively conveys the integration that is needed across marketing, sales, and service teams to create personalized experiences for target customers.
Before ABE, marketing was a linear process. Marketing teams would generate leads and then hand them to a sales development representative, who would hand their information to sales, and so on. Each team worked on its own as information was passed from one to another. This strategy works on a small scale, but when working with bigger companies, you must identify the target accounts and be proactive about marketing to them individually.
Miller gave a great analogy to better understand the account-based strategy. He described how traditional demand generation is like fishing with a net. It doesn’t matter which person or company you catch, as long as you are catching enough.
On the other hand, account-based marketing is more like fishing with a spear. You find the big fish and you go after them proactively. Miller explained how that approach worked very well for his team until they realized, “it doesn’t feel very good to be poked by a spear.” As a result, the concept of ABM needed to evolve so it wasn’t just poking customers with a spear, but rather creating and delivering a better experience. That was the process behind Miller’s team moving toward account-based experience.
“We all appreciate that ABE takes marketing out of the name,” added Miller. “It’s not just marketing. Everybody in the organization can be involved in the account-based experience in a way that maybe ABM excludes them.”
Conant emphasized that if you can differentiate with experience, then you are going to profit and grow better than your competition. In recent years, marketing companies have been able to gather more information using behavioral data to understand their customers and create better experiences for their target companies.
“If we want to deliver better experiences, we have to go out and do it. No cold territories and no cold accounts,” emphasized Conant. “We have to out-experience our competitors.”
Customer Life Cycle and Being Relevant
As well as creating more engaging experiences, it’s important for companies to be thinking through the entire customer life cycle. The experience customers have will depend on if the marketing is aligned with where they are at in their unique journey. Miller stated, “Good marketing is relevant. If you want to engage with someone and connect with them, you need to know who they are, what’s important to them, and adjust accordingly.” Understanding where your customers are as they move down your funnel will allow your marketing to become customized and relevant to them.
Good marketing always comes down to relevance. You can’t be that specific in marketing to a million people at a time. Account-based strategy allows companies to narrow it down, focus on a smaller subset, and become more relevant to their customers. Miller summarized it well when he said, “You have to align the timing to the tactic, so you are looking at what’s most effective when.”
Chat Funnels makes their marketing relevant by engaging with people who go to them for more information. They are responding to the signals that the customers give, which allows them to tailor their experience on an individual level.
Five Key Components to an Effective ABE
During the discussion, Miller described his five key components to an effective ABE.
- Build: Getting core data foundation in place.
- Find: Using data to identify accounts you want to go after and understanding where they are in their journey.
- Engage: The orchestration of ads, emails, calls, etc. Figuring out how to make this orchestration work in harmony.
- Close: Bringing sales into the equation while working collaboratively as a single team. Miller emphasized, “Sales and marketing is not a baton hand-off. They have different positions, but they pass the ball back and forth in an orchestrated way.”
- Measure: Using KPI’s that are relevant to what you are trying to accomplish.
You must use a platform to be successful in following these steps. Acquiring that technology will you allow you to have the data you need to understand your customers. Having that behavioral data will allow you to select the right accounts, which is essential to the success of your company.
The Future of Account-Based Engagement
Both Miller and Conant shared their insights on what they believed the next phase of ABM would look like and what ABM needs to do better and be more effective.
First, a convergence between traditional marketing platforms and data platforms. Data is important because it drives the models and allows companies to maintain relevancy. Therefore, owning proprietary data is going to become increasingly important.
Second, an evolution of marketing platforms moving toward account based as the fundamental platforms. There will be more data allowing for more predictive and interpretive analytics.
Continuing Innovation with Account-Based Engagement
At the end of the day, marketing is still a lot of guessing. However, we are at a time where there is no shortage of technology and innovation. In the future, companies will need to adopt more foundational platforms that come with quality data, insights, and decisioning. Learning to effectively implement ABE will allow your company to stay ahead of the curve and maintain relevance in the marketing world.